Richard Cruse Sentenced for Child Pornography Crimes

Ford County Sex Offender, Richard Cruse Sentenced to 27 Years in Prison for Child Pornography Crimes

(STL.News) A Ford County man, Richard Cruse, 37, of the 200 block of North Center Street, in Melvin, Ill., has been sentenced to 324 months (27 years) to be followed by 15 years of supervised release, for distribution and possession of child pornography.

In March 2021, a federal grand jury charged Cruse with two counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography for crimes he committed in November 2019 and September 2020. Cruse was initially arrested by Ford County authorities and charged with two counts of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child and Indecent Solicitation of a Child. Cruse was transferred to the custody of the U.S. Marshals service after the federal indictment, where he has remained. He pleaded guilty in January 2022 to the three-count indictment.

Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm found that the Cruse engaged in pattern of sexual abuse and exploitation of a minor. In imposing the 27-year imprisonment sentence, Judge Mihm noted that the harm done to victims for some criminal offenses is “temporary,” but contrasted that with Cruse’s conduct remarking, “it is clear from all that we’ve heard in this case that is not true. The harm is permanent.” Judge Mihm also ordered $9,000 in restitution to three separate victims from the child pornography files Cruse trafficked.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Ford County Sheriff’s Department conducted the investigation with the cooperation of Ford County State’s Attorney Andrew Killian. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson and represented the government in this prosecution.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.